The Consumption-Creation Conundrum

A diagram showing equal parts consumption and creation of content.



Sitting on the couch with my computer in my lap, my eyes strain to read the words of the latest post by Brian Solis titled, “Are You a Content Consumer or Creator?” I see a flash of red from the corner of my eye; it’s my Blackberry with another email. I pick it up and unlock it, only to realize that the time reads 1:30 AM.

Crap! Where has the time gone?

I had literally spent the last 3 and 1/2 hours using Google Reader to find articles that interested me – a How-To Guide from Mashable about finding Digital Marketing jobs, another post from Apple fan boy MG Siegler about the Verizone iPhone, and another article about the death of something, whether it be the web, blogging, or the flash drive.

But after reading Solis’ article, I realized that I was doing it all wrong – the absurd amount of time I spent consuming content I should have been spent creating content.

To Solis, the web has enabled everyday people like you and I to have a voice and a channel to broadcast ourselves; a break from an earlier period when many of us simply consumed the words and ideas of other people:

But then, everything changed. We were gifted with the ability to share what we think, feel, and experience, on demand. The democratization of information was finally upon us and we the people would ensure that our voices would be heard and felt. This was our time, quite literally as Time Magazine named “us” as the person of the year.

While true that the web has given ordinary people a voice and an outlet, Brian Solis is a little too optimistic. As he mentions, 68% of the internet population consists of listeners and not producers, yet there are over 125 million blogs on the internet, and over 255 million websites. That’s a lot of content! The web is so saturated with information nowadays that we are seeing tools for content consumption improve and increase; a trend which Solis finds troubling:

There’s more money in consumption than creation. And, that’s when I realized I was simply trying to justify it [iPad] as a tool for consumption AND creation. Truth is that it’s [the iPad] a beautiful tool for content consumption and curation. But, I challenge you to create at least equal to you what you consume…or at least more than you do today.

I don’t believe that it is imperative for everyone who uses to the internet to express their voice, but I do believe that they should have the channel to do so if they wish. Just because you and I have the right to vote and express our opinions, doesn’t mean that we always will.  Some of us might not care enough or have other reasons for not voting, and whatever you say to rationalize your decision is fine with me. So if you decide not to blog or update your Facebook, then good for you.

To each their own.

But I will say that Solis’ post did challenge me personally and intellectually.

I realized I was being haunted by Solis’ words when recently a friend asked me how many hours I spent blogging a week. I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t tell him exactly how many.

“10 hours,” I said at first, before blurting out, “No 20. Yeah 20 sounds good.”

But the more and more I thought about it,  the more I realized that I spend significantly less time writing blog posts than I do consuming other people’s content. I love reading a lot, but my problem nowadays is that I can’t recall anything that I’ve read in the past 12 hours, let alone a week or a month ago. Which is why I have to write everything down or else I forget. I guess it’s a byproduct of the explosion of the web and the information economy; the amount of information on the web comes at me so fast, I hardly have time to digest one piece of information before I have to move on to the next piece.

So, once I read an article, I’m going to start writing stuff down. Like blog posts writing stuff down. As someone who dreams of being a content creator for a living, there is simply no reason why I should be consuming more content than I produce.

Solis was right. There is a lot of money to be made in consumption. Think of how easy it is to read through all the items in your RSS feed, or watch Youtube videos of cats, than it is to write your own blog post that will end up in someone else’s news feed, or create your own cat Youtube video. Creating content requires effort and brainpower; consuming content, not so much.

When I read with the intent to consume, I just let the words wash over me, but when I read with the intent to create, I learn more than I thought I ever could.

So I’m going to challenge myself.

For every article I read online, I will either write a blog post or a comment. It may be short or it may be long, but that doesn’t matter. By consuming and creating equally, I just hope to achieve the balance of Solis’ last infographic:

A diagram showing equal parts learning and teaching from consuming and creating content.



How much content do you consume on a daily basis? Do you wish you spent more time creating? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


About Ssunmonu

Sam Sunmonu is a Duke University Senior majoring in History with a minor in Political Science. He is interested in the marketing industry with a strong online tilt. You can catch him blogging at Sam Sunmonu's Blog, or follow him @NewInfluential. View all posts by Ssunmonu

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